Business

North’s top SMEs post sales rise of 21.6%

Ulster Business ‘Next 200′ publication ranks regions biggest small firms by turnover

Co Tyrone-based Skea Eggs was acquired by Fermanagh food manufacturer Ready Egg Products in a move that doubled the size of the business overnight
Co Tyrone-based Skea Eggs was acquired by Fermanagh food manufacturer Ready Egg Products in a move that doubled the size of the business overnight Skea Egg Farms is one of five firms in the north which posted turnovers in excess of £100m and as a group showed sales growth of 49.7%

Northern Ireland’s leading SMEs have seen sales surging by more than 20% alongside rising profits, the Ulster Business Next 200 can reveal.

The special edition, sponsored by Go Succeed and which will land on desks in the first week of April, provides a measure of the performance of the north’s business community and SMEs, and follows on directly from the Top 100 companies list.

This year’s list shows turnover has grown by 21.6% to £11.3 billion from £9.3 billion, while profitability has also increased by 11.2% to £771.6 million from £690.4 million.

Five firms - Charles Brand Group, Circle K Energy, Kingsbridge Healthcare Group, Seatruck Ferries and Skea Egg Farms - all posted turnovers in excess of £100m and as a group showed sales growth of 49.7%.



The Next 200 for 2024 shows pre-tax profits among firms making this year’s list total £771.6m – up 11.2% from £690.4m.

This represents a pre-tax profit margin of 6.8% slightly down on prior year, which showed a margin of 7.4%.

Since its inception the Next 200 was compiled to show the performance of those companies bubbling under the Top 100, and this year’s figure of 17 having the potential to break into the Top 100 is testament to the quality of businesses operating in Northern Ireland.

Conversely, only 21 of the 200 companies posted reduced sales figures during their latest financial year.

It should be noted that 21 companies out of the listing actually posted losses – these losses totalled some £71.6m.

Ulster Business editor, John Mulgrew
Ulster Business editor, John Mulgrew Ulster Business editor, John Mulgrew

John Mulgrew, editor of Ulster Business, said: “The latest Next 200 list shows that while there have been a litany of challenges facing firms here – from dealing with the outworkings of the Windsor Framework, to skills and staff shortages, high interest rates, inflation and a cost-of-living crisis – they remain able to continue to not only perform, but perform strongly.

“There are once again businesses from across the sectors, familiar household names, and firms which are quietly creating dozens or hundreds of jobs and posting sizeable sales and pre-tax profits.”

A spokesperson for Next 2000 sponsor Go Succeed said: “It’s often said about us in Northern Ireland that we would rather hide our light under a bushel than shine a light on our success. Modesty is of course a virtue but when it comes to business, we have so much to shout about.

“The Ulster Business Next 200 presents a fantastic opportunity to do just that, showcasing the very best of our SMEs as they lie on the cusp of the region’s leading 100 companies.”

Go Succeed is part of a £17m scheme backed by the UK Government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Committees aimed at driving lasting impact on the business landscape across all 11 council areas in Northern Ireland.